- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- Bruins coach Claude Julien gave his players a simple choice Sunday morning: To skate or not to skate, that was the question.
The Bruins players were required to report to the Garden at 10:30 and Julien hadn’t decided whether or not to conduct a full-team practice, an optional skate, or skip it all together.
The coach first wanted to assess how the players were feeling from a physical standpoint after Saturday’s 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers in the season opener at TD Garden. The consensus was to practice.
“I’m trying to stay on top of things as much as I can with good communication,” Julien said.
Boston officially began training camp last Sunday after a 119-day lockout and the Bruins made the most of the short camp. It showed in their play Saturday night against the Rangers. All four lines, six defenseman and goaltender Tuukka Rask seemed to be in midseason form.
“We played a great game, all 60 minutes,” said Bruins forward David Krejci. “We’re happy we got our first out of the way and now we can move on.”
No doubt the adrenaline and excitement of the season helped the Bruins play a full-60 minute game, but with so many games in a short period of time for the remainder of the season, it will be a challenge to keep up that pace.
The Bruins wanted to practice on Sunday as they prepared to host the Winnipeg Jets Monday afternoon at the Garden.
Boston played its style of hockey in Game 1 and it’ll need to keep that sustained momentum.
“I think that’s what is going to be important in regards to going into [Monday’s] game,” Julien said. “We can’t let a big game like the New York Rangers, and the way we played, we can’t just sit on that. We have to carry it through to the next game.
“It’s something we have to do and we know there’s no forgiving in a short schedule and you can’t afford to sit on past wins and think it’s going to happen automatically. We’ve got to start all over again [Monday] and that’s part of what is going to make great teams is teams and individuals that are never satisfied that want to go out and get more night after night and that’s what we have to create here.”
Another challenge for Julien this season will be to figure out his goaltending schedule. In a normal 82-game season, the veteran coach tries to plan it on a weekly basis because there are so many other variables that come into play. This season, Julien is taking a more simple approach when it comes to deciding which goaltender will start on a specific day.
“It’s planned until tomorrow,” Julien said after Sunday’s practice. “This is just something we have to feel our way through with this as we move along. We know we will see both.”
Julien definitely does not have a certain breakdown of games he would like Rask or Anton Khudobin to play this season. It wouldn’t make sense to approach it that way.
“That plan goes out the window as soon as there’s an injury,” explained Julien. “You can spend a lot of time worrying about that stuff, but I’m more of a kind of week-to-week situation, and then looking maybe a few weeks ahead of time.
“It also defends on the goaltender’s play, as well. There are a lot of things that come into play, but I don’t like to look too far ahead on that, never have, and any goaltender that has been with me will tell you that. Too much can happen and I think it’s a lot of wasted energy to say, ‘Well, out of 48 games, Tuukka will play 30 and the other will play 18.’ Well, what if it doesn’t happen that way? It’s a waste of my time and it’s a waste of energy.”
Rask will likely start the next two games, beginning Monday against the Jets and again on Wednesday against the Rangers in New York. Khudobin could make his season debut on Friday at the Garden against the New York Islanders.